Saint Vitus at the Black Cat

Thursday the 27th of September 2012 saw the Black Cat in Washington DC drawing a pretty good sized crowd for one of the legends of doom/stoner metal, Saint Vitus. This was the first of two major doom/stoner shows in just a few days as Down and Pentagram played the Fillmore three days later (my review of that show is coming next). However, the first band to play on this rainy Thursday night was Sourvein, a stoner/doom/sludge band that was a decent opener. They didn’t do anything that really stood out that much to me but they were heavy and fuzzy and made for a good band to open this kind of show. The second band to play was a three piece stoner band from North Carolina named Weedeater. Their bass player, “Dixie” Dave Collins, also does the vocals and he’s a pretty entertaining front man. When he wasn’t swigging whiskey from the bottle on stage he was giving all kinds of crazy cross eyed looks to the audience and stomping around his side of the stage. You may have seen him before in the bands Buzzov•en and Hail!Hornet but Weedeater was definitely his band and as such, they were a lot of fun to watch play. Their songs ranged from faster paced catchy riffs to slow plodding doom all with a bit of humor to them. Their closing song, the humorous yet epic track Weed Monkey, was a perfect showcase of their range and a great set up for the final band of the night, Saint Vitus.

Saint Vitus formed in the late 70s in Los Angeles as one of the first doom metal bands (after Black Sabbath of course). However it wasn’t until 1986 that their legendary vocalist, Scott “Wino” Weinrich would join the band. Wino has been in several other noteworthy bands such as The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Shrinebuilder, Premonition 13 and too many more to list, however he is most famous for his time in Saint Vitus. This is why the influential Saint Vitus got all the old school doom heads out to the show, as well as many younger fans. Saint Vitus put out a new album, Lillie: F-65, back in May and made an appearance at Maryland Deathfest that same month, however Thursday’s concert was the first time Saint Vitus had played any of that new material actually inside the District. They kicked off their set with one of the new album’s best tracks, Blessed Night, and played several more from the album through the night. They also played several older classics from the three old albums with Wino and even played a couple songs from before he joined the band. You can see the actual set list here if you’d like. Despite the band’s age they had great energy on stage. Guitarist Dave Chandler went crazy with the solos all night sometimes playing with his teeth or even behind his head at times. He really did a good job of bringing the crowd up while Wino’s painful lyrics and trademark weathered, raspy voice brought everyone back down. Towards the end of the set Dave Chandler even said that this was definitely the band’s best gig in DC and he thanked the audience for being so into the show. I guess that wasn’t good enough for him as he later jumped off the stage and played a solo while walking around in the audience! Saint Vitus eventually walked off stage and came back to perform two of the band’s most well known songs, Dying Inside and Born Too Late. I’ve got video footage of the entire encore, and some other songs too, posted below so check that out if you can handle the doom. My only complaint with the show was having to watch the band in that awful pinkish orange lighting the Black Cat has. It’s long past time they upgraded the lighting on the upstairs main stage and this show was just another reminder of that. Even so, Saint Vitus put on a killer show that night no matter how you look at it. Thanks for reading this post and be sure to get out to some of the great metal shows coming to the area to help support the scene you’re a part of!

Sourvein:

Troy Medlin of Sourvein

JC Fari of Sourvein

Troy Medlin of Sourvein

Sourvein at the Black Cat

Weedeater:

Dave Shepherd of Weedeater

Dave Shepherd of Weedeater

Weedeater at the Black Cat

Keith Kirkum of Weedeater

Dixie Dave Collins of Weedeater

Dixie Dave Collins of Weedeater

Dixie Dave Collins of Weedeater

Saint Vitus:

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Saint Vitus at the Black Cat

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Updates And Concert Photos

Sometimes it seems like I run a shit load of contests on here and not much else. While I’m constantly working on updating the Upcoming Metal Concert Calendar the actual written posts haven’t been coming up as much lately. I have plenty of excuses like car trouble and getting sick and march madness, but I have gotten so far behind on some things that it is a bit ridiculous. I just recently finished going through all my concert pics from January, and I’ll post some of them below with a few notes about the shows they were at. You can of course click those images to see more of those bands. There are still more contests coming up soon. I love giving away free concert tickets and other stuff to the readers of the site and I hope I can continue to do so for a long time. There have been a lot of great performances by some of the area’s local acts this year and a few have even put out some high quality music videos. I did a post on that in February that you can read here though now there is another to add to the list, the below video for A Sound Of Thunder‘s song Murderous Horde. They’re having their CD release show this Saturday at Empire (formerly Jaxx).

This Sunday, April 1st (no joke!) a local black metal band, Fuchida, will be performing live for the first time at the Black Cat of all places. The venue is mostly known for appealing to the indie rock and alternative scene and I’m hoping there is a good turn out for this show so maybe they’ll consider hosting more extreme metal bands. You might be thinking that there are already places for local metal bands to play live in this area but how many of them aren’t pay-to-play? This is a local metal act headlining a show at an area venue that doesn’t make them sell tickets or sign a contract that involves them giving the venue money. We should be supporting that, even if we don’t know what the band sounds like yet.

The following Sunday, April 8th, there is another venue in Washington DC that will be hosting a metal show that doesn’t usually have them. The U Street Music Hall is normally home to dance and techno music (sort of filling the void left when Nation closed). They’re hosting their first metal show on this Sunday night, the old school UK thrashers Onslaught and a band you may not recognize by name, Mpire Of Evil, that features two ex-members of the legendary Venom. Not only that but they even play some Venom songs in their set list (details of their first show on this US tour here). The venue is said to have a great sound system (you just know those electronica DJ guys are good at setting up speakers) and it isn’t very often you get to see 80s thrash metal in a club with a great sound system set up. And really, when are you going to get to hear live Venom classics sound better than this? One of the venue’s owners even posted to Twitter (here) that he’d like to see more metal shows at the U Street Music Hall so I hope a good amount of you come out to show it is worth it! To make this all even sweeter, DCHeavyMetal.com will be giving away a pair of tickets to this show next week, so keep an eye out for that.

Another thing I’d like to mention is that this month, March 2012, has been DCHeavyMetal.com’s best month ever in regards to total hits. You people who read this site, even if it’s just for the calendar, who spread the word to your friends, passed along the link of Facebook and Twitter, or even just stumbled upon it with Google, have made it worth all the work and time it takes me to run it. I don’t really make any money doing this (I do sell a few shirts here and there) and I refuse to put any paid ads on the site so if you’d like to donate a few bucks to the site you can send money via Paypal to the email address: DCHeavyMetal@Gmail.com Any donation is appreciated of course and will be put towards either making the site better or paying my way to get into more metal shows. Now, on to the photos…

Jucifer
I saw Jucifer back on Friday the 20th of January 2012 at the Black Cat and as always they put on a great show. This husband and wife duo truely live the lifestyle as they tour the country in their RV bringing their brand of sludge metal from city to city 12 months a year. And if you couldn’t tell from the mountain of speakers in this photo, they take the wall of sound thing quite literally. Be sure to see them next time they come through the area and bring ear plugs!

King Giant
The next night, Saturday the 21st of January was a big night for Northern Virginia’s metal scene. One of the area’s biggest bands, King Giant, was having their CD release show for their sophomore album, Dismal Hollow. On top of that, this was the grand re-opening show for Empire, the new name of the venue formerly known as Jaxx. Not my best night of shooting photos but I mean, with a line up of Auroboros, The Crimson Electric, Borracho and King Giant, it would have just been wrong for me to not be drinking beer and whiskey all night. I shot a couple videos that night including the one below of King Giant playing Pistols And Penance off of the album. I also added a photo below showing some of the interior changes they have made at the venue if you haven’t seen them yet.
Empire (formerly Jaxx)

Hail!Hornet
Tuesday the 7th of February found me at the Black Cat again, this time to see southern sludge metal band Hail!Hornet play on the back stage. There was a showing of the film Slow Southern Steel at the beginning of the show, a movie about heavy metal in the American south, but I missed that. The Atlanta, Georgia based psychedelic sludge band Zoroaster played after they did with a really trippy light show, and finally Hail!Hornet took the stage and killed it. They’re a band featuring members of Buzzov•en, Alabama Thunderpussy and Sourvein so you knew they were going to bring some great filthy sludge metal and they didn’t disappoint.

Windhand

Now I’ve got to skip a few bands because I simply haven’t gotten to sorting all of their photos yet. The above image is of Dorthea Cottrell of the Richmond based doom band Windhand when they played at St. Stephen’s Church in Columbia Heights on Saturday, March 3rd. I won’t write much about that show here because I did a review of it covering all four bands who played it here.

Warbringer

On Tuesday March 13th I found myself at the 9:30 Club to see California thrash act Warbringer and Floridian power metal band Iced Earth. I had been given a photo pass for that show, though for some reason it was only valid for Warbringer’s set. To add to my frustration I was feeling sick and while it was cool too see Warbringer play on a bigger stage, I just wasn’t up for Iced Earth by the time they played. When Iced Earth’s new singer, Stu Block of Into Eternity fame, started making juvenile sexist comments about giving the shocker to the women in the audience I decided I’d had enough and took my infected self home.

Alcest
I’m skipping over talking about an excellent Dysrhythmia show I saw in Baltimore here but I wanted to mention last night’s Alcest show at DC9. They put on a excellent performance of a set list made up of mostly their new album’s material. It did go on a bit long I thought, but it was still a pretty great experience. The lighting was pretty dim though making it hard to take photos, and the fog machine was jacked up the entire show making it even harder to get any great shots. Because of this I decided to make some animated gif images from some of my series of shots. I did see Alcest open for Enslaved in September last year so you can see some higher quality images of the band I shot by clicking the gif if you’d like.

Well, that’s all for now, thanks for reading DCHeavyMetal.com and if you’d like more updates on things like when local bands are making announcements or area venues and media have things to say about metal be sure to check out DCHM on Facebook and Twitter (your choice, I post most things to both). Keep it metal everyone and remember, support the scene you’re a part of!

Another Mega Sized Concert Recap

Well, I haven’t posted any concert reviews lately, but as usual I’ve still been going to lots of concerts. Things have slowed down a bit here in late December concert wise but this is normal since bands don’t usually like touring during the holidays. I’ve been to some great shows since my first mega sized concert recap. I’ve set each show as a separate paragraph so if you don’t care about a particular gig you can easily skip to the next one. And of course all the band names will link you to a place you can stream that band’s music. Click on any picture to see more of my photos of that band as well. Now, on to the awesomeness that is going to see metal shows in the DC area.

On Saturday the 12th of November 2011 I headed out to the Velvet Lounge on U Street in the District. Warchild was headlining a show and I had heard they were good live, though I hadn’t gotten a chance to see them yet. I got there right when their set was starting and the upstairs of the Velvet Lounge was absolutely packed! I’ve never seen it that full before and it’s cool so many people came out to see a local metal band play there. Warchild is a thrash metal act who likes to party hard. Everyone in the band was shirtless and sporting lots of tattoos. The vocalist, also from the 80s throwback rock band Rattler, told everyone in attendance to not hold back and stage dive and crowd surf as much as they wanted. The audience complied and people were even hanging from the fan in the middle of the room, just going nuts. They brought some people on stage to pound beers in a beer bong and even had two guys race to see who could smash the a can of beer open on their head and then drink it the fastest. And you thought Municipal Waste was a party thrash band, this show was crazy. They played a solid thrash set and ended it with a kick ass cover, with plenty of crowd participation, of Metallica‘s old school classic The Four Horsemen. Such a great show, I can’t wait to see them live again. Highly recommended!
Warchild

Beer Eating Contest

The following Thursday, the 18th of November, I went to the Black Cat in Washington DC to see Fu Manchu play. The opening act was the Austin, Texas based three piece Honky. Somewhere between hellbilly and stoner, they were a pretty solid opener. Their bass player is JD Pinkus who is better known for having played in the Butthole Surfers. They had some hilarious song titles and subjects, which you’d expect more from a humorous grind band. My favorite was their song about masturbating at work called Gittin’ It. They were fun and obviously didn’t take themselves too seriously and they made for a good opener for Fu Manchu. On the final song of Honky’s set Fu Manchu guitar player Bob Balch came out to play a tune with the band. Fu Manchu is one of the main influences in stoner rock and metal, and most of their songs deal with modes of transportation like souped up cars and skateboarding. They had played the upstairs main stage at the Black Cat in September of 2010 but this concert was in the smaller back stage downstairs. The place was pretty crowded when Fu Manchu hit the stage, but the crowd wasn’t too rowdy. They started the set off with a few of their 90s classics before launching into this tour’s main draw, performing their entire 1996 album In Search Of… straight through. They walked off stage for the encore thing and came back to play a couple more songs, finally ending the set with King Of The Road which was still stuck in my head as I drove home. King of the road says you move too slow!
Honky with Bob Balch

Scott Hill of Fu Manchu

On Tuesday the 29th of November I found myself at the Cellar Door in Annandale, Virginia to see the Chapel Hill, North Carolina based band Black Skies play. There were four bands playing that night but I only caught two of them. The first band that I saw was Admiral Browning, a Frederick, Maryland band that was formerly an instrumental band with four members. To my surprise, at this show they had vocals and only three members. A bit of a change, and although I have a fondness for instrumental metal bands, the vocals fit in to place with the rest of the music. They were entertaining but the main reason I came to this show was to see Black Skies again. I saw them play back in September and they blew me away. This show was no less exciting. Even in the tight basement of the Cellar Door they just burst with energy. They’re the only band I’ve seen someone play a guitar solo with their teeth in a basement, and I’ve seen them do it twice now! I ended up buying a poster and it came with a free download of their debut album, On The Wings Of Time. This is a band worth checking out and I can’t wait to see them play in the area again.
Admiral Browning

Michelle Temple of Black Skies

Skip ahead to Sunday the 11th of December and I was at Jaxx to see the notorious Norwegian black metal band Mayhem again. I had seen them on the first show of their tour in Baltimore on November 2nd, but now they were back in the area playing the final show of their tour. The set list was the same as the first show, however vocalist Attila Csihar had a different costume on (he is known for having a wide range of stage costumes). This time he did not have any fake blood, and he held a skull in his left hand for the entire set. The audience seemed much more dead than the crazy pits that happened in Baltimore a month before, and the band didn’t seem to get into the show as much either. Being the final show of the tour they were probably a bit worn out. The audio mix at Jaxx wasn’t as good either. Overall I wouldn’t say the show was bad, it just wasn’t great, and the Baltimore show definitely felt more like a real Mayhem show. The fog machine was on thick all night though, and camera conditions weren’t optimal, however I still got a few decent shots and Mayhem even posted one of my photos from this show on their Facebook wall.

Mayhem

The following Thursday, the 15th of December, I found myself at the Black Cat once again, this time to see the killer line up of The Body, Zoroaster and Black Cobra. The first band to play was The Body, a two man doom band from Rhode Island (though I hear they are relocating). They set their gear up in the middle of the flood of the Black Cat’s back stage area and just played there on the ground, with the audience around them. They were very loud, a theme that would recur throughout the night. After they played Zoroaster took the stage. They’re a psychedelic sludge metal band from Atlanta, Georgia. They have a really trippy vibe while being heavy as well. They had a bunch of lasers shooting around not just the stage but the entire room and it looked pretty cool. Midway through my favorite song of theirs, Odyssey, the power abruptly cut out and the lights came back on for a few minutes before the band finished their set. Then came the headliner, Los Angeles, California based Black Cobra. They’re a sludge metal duo and their latest album, Invernal, is heavy as all hell. They ended up playing every song off of it, though not in order, as well as some of their older songs mixed in. A truly crushing set, it’s amazing how much heavy just two people can make. Take note all you folk bands with like a dozen members, these three bands on this tour had just seven total members between them, and they kicked major ass. Sometimes less really is more.
The Body

Zoroaster

Black Cobra

The next night, Friday the 16th of December, I went to the Velvet Lounge to catch a show I spent a good deal of effort promoting here on DCHM. Borracho was headlining an album release show, the official launch of their LP Splitting Sky. However, there were other bands who played before them. First was a band from Glen Echo, Maryland called Rezin. The guys seemed nice and all but I have to say they weren’t very good. Most of the crowd who had assembled had left by the time their set was over, and honestly I can’t really blame them. The band was very monotonous and they just didn’t do it for me, or apparently that many other in attendance. They didn’t seem to fit with the two other acts on this bill either. However, the next band to play, Kingsnake from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was simply outstanding on stage. They played a style of stoner that was almost southern, though rather dark as well. They had fine tuned their songs and obviously put a lot of effort into practicing them as well. It was a great performance by a band I didn’t really know anything about going in. After they played I got up on stage and swore at the audience about giving out free shit, and then Borracho started their set. The guys were on point this night, really putting on a great show. I’ve seen them a few times this year and this was definitely my favorite of their performances. Before I’d always seen them open for someone so it was great getting to see them play a full length set live for once. Also, it was a good turn out for the second metal show in a row at the Velvet Lounge, which is awesome. Hopefully they’ll continue to let us metal heads take over their spot on U Street more often on the weekends.
Rezin

Kingsnake

Borracho

On Saturday the 17th of December I went to my third metal show in as many days, this time to see locals Ilsa and Midnight Eye play with two Harrisonburg, Virginia bands, Earthling and Orthrus. They were playing at a small Ethiopian bar, named Asefu’s, that is just a few doors down from DC9 and the U Street corridor. I got there as Midnight Eye was setting up though I really only saw their first song. However, it was a brand new song and it was pretty sweet! I went a few doors down to eat dinner (I was starving) and came back while Orthrus was playing. The thin venue was packed and so I watched the show from the doorway and didn’t take any pictures (the band wasn’t facing my direction anyways). Regardless, they were pretty awesome. They play a sort of catchy black/thrash with death metal style deep vocals. Next up was Earthling, a band I had seen before at the now defunct Corpse Fortress back in March. They were just as fun to see live and I had forgotten how catchy I their tunes are. The final band of the night was DC’s own masters of doom/death metal, Ilsa. They have a dirty and crushing sound, very raw and primal and yet still very listenable. Some of their songs slow almost to a halt but the intensity never wanes. Ilsa is always fun to see live and this show was no different. However, at the end of their set they also played a new song for the first time, titled Man Made Monsters. Lucky for you who missed it, I’ve posted video of both Midnight Eye’s new song and Ilsa’s new song below. You might not be able to see much but you can at least hear them well enough.
Earthling

Ilsa

Well that wraps up another mega sized concert recap. I have a couple more shows to see before the year is done. You might be wondering why I didn’t cover the Mastodon show at the 9:30 Club in late November, and that’s because I’m not a Mastodon fan. I wanted to see Obscura and Abysmal Dawn play on December 7th but the weather was horrible that night and I didn’t want to drive to Baltimore in it as I knew traffic would be bad (Kyuss played the same night in Balti as well). Also, my camera’s lens was damaged during this time period and I had to wait a few weeks for it to be fixed (wasn’t cheap either!). And no, it wasn’t damaged at a show. Next week I plan on posting a big recap of 2011, from the local scene to the biggest metal stories of the year and it will include a preview of 2012 as well. Until then be sure to check the upcoming metal concert calendar and remember, support the scene you’re a part of!

Review of Fu Manchu gig at the Black Cat

Thursday the 2nd of September 2010 I had a bit of a struggle to get to the Black Cat to see Southern California’s Fu Manchu play. Opening act It’s Casual canceled and so the set times were moved up a bit earlier, which didn’t work in my favor. I did make it to the venue though, but I only caught about half of the last song by support act Black Tusk. That kinda sucks because I like their new album and wanted to see them. Not the end of the world though because the real reason I was here was to see headliners Fu Manchu. I’m not sure they count as a metal band, most tend to call them stoner or skater rock, but you’ve got to admit they have some thrashy riffs as well as some heavy distortion laden doom style riffs thrown in there too.

They came out at around 10pm and the audience was ready for them. I think the audience had about doubled in size in the 20 minutes since Black Tusk’s set. They started off playing Squash The Fly and their energy on stage was just great from the start. The crowd got into the show instantly and seemed to cheer louder after each song all night. Unlike some of the stoner and doom bands who are getting back together for reunions these days, Fu Manchu never broke up. This means they have a lot of material to choose from. Their setlist was the ‘best hits’ style spanning their career (as opposed to the play mostly new material style) and they played songs from just about all of the 10 full length studio releases and even a few from their EPs and singles. They did throw in a couple songs from their most recent release, Signs Of Infinite Power, and while I didn’t know them as well as some of their classics like Hell On Wheels and Evil Eye, they fit into the mix perfectly didn’t take away from the show at all like a band’s newer material sometimes can (*cough* Iron Maiden *cough*). I’d seen their setlist on the stage before the show and I’m glad to say not only did they play everything on it, but they added quite a few songs to it also, Ojo Rojo and Superbird notably, as well as a cover of the SSD song Nothing Done.

The whole show guitarist and lead vocalist Scott Hill kept changing location on the stage. Sometimes he’d be headbanging back by the drum kit, sometimes he’d walk up to the very edge of the stage and play to the crowd, and sometimes he’d just be jamming out in front of the mic stand. The whole band seemed very at home on stage and they put on a great performance. These songs are great on their studio albums, but executed live they seemed to be supercharged and maybe part of that was from the crowd’s feedback. The whole thing was rather enjoyable I must say, well except when someone told me to stop shooting video early in the set. That kinda sucked, but I still managed to shoot the final two songs of the night, which you can see below. Aside from that minor issue, I had a great time overall. Even when the mosh pit behind me got out of control and I had beer spilled on my back I didn’t care because it was just that fun of a concert. Early in the set Scott repeated “Baltimore Sucks” into the mic after an audience member said it, but he later apologized when people in the crowd yelled to stop hating on Baltimore and he clarified that he in fact likes Baltimore and enjoyed some of their shows there in the past. Other than that he didn’t say a whole lot between songs, other than to introduce the next tune. Eventually they ended their crowd pleasing show with the song King Of The Road, only to come back a minute or two afterwards and play a request, the song Weird Beard, as their only encore song to finish the night. They played for about 90 minutes straight and their set didn’t get boring for a second. This was a great way to spend a Thursday night in DC and I’m glad I succeeded in getting there. And if you weren’t in attendance or were and just want to remember, here’s the videos of their final two songs they played:

Review of Altar Of Plagues gig at the Black Cat

When I heard there was going to be a black metal show at the Black Cat I have to admit I was intrigued. This is a venue known for getting punk and indie rock bands mostly, though they do get metal shows from time to time. I’ve never heard of a real black metal band playing there before, so Friday the 30th of July 2010 I had to be in attendance. The line up was set to be Altar Of Plagues, Castevet, Velnias and local doom trio Salome, but they canceled just days prior. Apparently their guitarist, Rob Moore, was mugged Wednesday night in Springfield and was unable to play. I hope he recovers quickly and they can play again soon. As a side note, you can read my take on Salome when I saw them play with Jucifer in January here. The turn out wasn’t very large for this concert, unfortunately, and I wonder how much of that was due to Salome canceling. It was held on the upstairs main stage of the Black Cat but really it probably should have been on the smaller backstage. Regardless, one band off the bill wasn’t going to keep me from showing up and I’m glad I was there.

I got there at about 9:30pm, the time the first band was supposed to be playing, though they were still setting up when I walked in. They didn’t start playing until about 9:45 which was fine by me, gave me time to grab a beer. This band, Velnias, is from Colorado. They were definitely the most doomy of the three bands. Their barefoot red haired bass player started the set by crouching on all fours and screaming something over and over while rocking back and forth. They didn’t face the crowd much, most of the time everyone (except the drummer) was facing toward the amps, which I found kind of odd. The first few minutes of their set was so slow it was almost drone, though eventually their music built up in intensity. The microphone on the left, being used by one of the guitarists, was pretty impossible to hear in the mix (and I was pretty centered). This wasn’t a huge deal as he split the vocal duties with the bass player. Regardless of minor technical issues, they were pretty entertaining and their sound combined a sort of atmospheric black metal with the slow build up and sudden crashing of doom metal. They only played for half an hour but I could have watched them play for a full hour. They ended their set by doing the old Motorhead trick of putting the guitars in front of the amps to rain feedback onto the audience, while the bass player again rocked on his knees screaming a chant of some sort. Rather powerful way to end a set I have to say.

The next band up was New York City’s Castevet. I enjoyed their latest album, Mounds Of Ash, so I was curious about their live show. They are a three piece band who does the wall of sound rather well, though the vocals this night were turned way up in the mix. This wouldn’t be that big of a problem if I didn’t find them rather monotonous to the point of being annoying by the end of the set. On their studio work the music was much more front and center, but here the vocals were up rather high in the mix. This might have simply been the fault of the venue, I wouldn’t be surprised if whoever was doing the sound at the Black Cat had no idea how to mix black metal. It could have been overcompensation for the low mic level the previous band had too. A few times I found myself getting into the music a bit, but then the vocals would come in and jar me back out. I wouldn’t say they sucked live, but this set up wasn’t ideal for these guys, unfortunately. Since they’re from New York I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up coming by this way again at some point and I’d like to see them again, though in a more ideal setting.

Next up was the headliner, Altar Of Plagues, coming all the way from Cork, Ireland. I felt kind of bad that there was such a poor turn out for these guys after coming from so far away. They were certainly my favorite band of the night to watch. Their sound isn’t far removed from Wolves In The Throne Room. Very atmospheric black metal with lots of build ups of momentum in songs that had some rather catchy riffs too. I wouldn’t say they were exploring any new territory with their sound, but they were very good at what they did. I noticed their drummer was using a hihat which is not something you see a lot in black metal. He was a very proficient drummer though, really punching it when he had to but also keeping interesting beats when the tempos slowed down. The band didn’t have much lighting just three red lights on stage and it was kind of hard to see them since the light from the bar was keeping the room lit more than anything. They didn’t move around a lot on stage, but they didn’t really have to, their music was easy to get caught up in. Their set was very distortion heavy and it was very loud, one of the loudest sets I’ve seen at the Black Cat, though part of that might have been due to the lack of people filling the room. They started going a bit crazy during their last song when they ended up also putting their guitars in front of the amps to do the feedback loop thing Velnias had done earlier. While Altar Of Plagues didn’t have a lot of surprises in their set, they were playing some great atmospheric black metal, and I’m glad I made it out to this show, it was a nice black metal warm up for the Enthroned show coming to Jaxx next week. I didn’t shoot any video at this concert because the lighting was so poor I didn’t think it was even worth it. Hopefully I’ll get some better footage soon, as I’ve got a few concerts lined up here in the coming week.

Review of Jucifer gig at the Black Cat

On Monday night the 11th of January 2010 I headed over to the Black Cat in Washington DC to watch a couple metal bands play their backstage, Jucifer and Salome. I’ve been to the Black Cat many times over the years, but it’s pretty rare for them to get metal bands that are actually worth seeing, they primarily specialize in indie/modern rock and punk. I always try to make it to their metal shows with actually good bands, and tonight was no exception as I wanted to see both bands on the bill.

I got there around 9:40pm and although their website said Salome started at 9:00 and the Black Cat’s Twitter feed said 9:30, the woman taking money to get in said it was actually set to start at 9:45. Perfect timing! I was a little surprised to find their vocalist, Katherine Katz, standing in the middle of the crowd when the show started. She never did get on the stage and instead paced around back and forth throughout the set throwing her hair around and posing during her more lengthy outbursts. She’s a very petite girl but you wouldn’t know it when she’s screaming into that mic. They only played a few songs but they were long songs with a diverse range, going from faster paced Black Sabbath-esque riffs then grinding to a halt at certain points, the entire band actually going motionless for brief periods of time. Then they’d burst back to life amid pummeling drums and lurching downtuned guitar riffs. They are from Annandale and are probably Northern Virginia’s best doom metal band. You can also hear Kat on vocals on the latest Agoraphobic Nosebleed album, Agorapocalypse. Salome had opened for Jucifer’s three previous shows and this was the final gig they’d play together this winter. They played for a little over 30 minutes and were a great local opening act for Jucifer, who was up next.

After going to the red room to buy myself a cheap PBR draft, I was looking at the imposing speaker rig that Jucifer had on stage. They are known for how loud their concerts are, though I’ve seen several bands known for that before. The show was certainly very loud, the loudest I’ve ever heard at the Black Cat and that includes the upstairs main stage too. They weren’t the loudest small venue band I’ve ever heard (that’s probably Sunn O))) last Sept) but still, it was an impressive set up for the tiny space in the Black Cat’s back room. Jucifer is a husband and wife duo who travel around in their RV essentially constantly touring. The show started with Amber Valentine playing some notes on the guitar while the fog machine started to kick in. After about a minute Edgar Livengood slinked behind the drum kit and started whacking away. These two really put out a lot of energy, both playing their instruments very loosely. Edgar was smacking every part of the drum kit he could, not just the skins. Sometimes he’d use two drum sticks in one hand, sometimes he’d stand or jump up and shake the whole kit while he was banging so hard, and sometimes he’d use his bare hands to smack things. Sometimes Amber seemed to pick her notes very carefully, and sometimes she was sitting on the floor playing what can loosely be called a ‘chord progression’ on her guitar. They didn’t pause between any of their songs and music just sort of flowed forth like a volcano, sometimes more explosive and chaotic and sometimes slower and more focused. The two switched off on the vocals throughout the set until eventually Amber was singing in the dark for a good minute or two and the show ended. They gave each other a hug and kiss then started turning off all the amps as people filed out. $10 for 2 great bands was a great deal and if you get a chance to catch either of these bands live I certainly recommend checking them out.